Sunday, October 30, 2005

Cider Days and Open Houses

We've had some fun "Meet the Pastors" open houses recently. At Brian and Becca's, it seems like people came and went in small groups. They had a great spread of supper/snack food. The adults visited and got to know each other on the deck. On the other side of the picture window, the little ones played, pretended, enjoyed each other, and watched some videos when it was time to wind down. They have a kid-friendly back yard, too. It was probably well used before we got there! We got there late so it was already dark. About 6-8 kids under 1 to 8 years?

Yesterday was an afternoon of apple-picking and an evening of apple mashing, cider pressing, deep fried turkey, luscious baked goods and apple desserts and lots of great fellowship in a relatively hidden shared back yard in the city. The kids joined us picking apples at the orchard. The orchard had a preschool play yard. Sitting on the back of a bumpy farm wagon staring at a dirt road 6 inches deep in muck brought back some of my own childhood memories!

The gathering yesterday drew about 50 people by the time the evening was done: Artisans, friends, family and neighbors. I'd say mostly friends and neighbors, and more kids! It was a great time for the kids to get to know each other and just play. Some of the kids who came for the first time Sunday will feel like they know someone when they come back. I counted about 12 kids yesterday. Some played inside, some played outside, some played foozeball in the garage with college students. Some of the kids interacted more with other kids and some interacted more with the adults they were comfortable with (parents close by) but it looked like everyone made new friends.

For more of our Artisan folk than I realized, this is their first October in the Northeast so it was a nice taste of fall.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Sunday Immersed Event and Kids

For All Saints' Day we're including an Immersed element to worship on Sunday night: "From Stained Glass to Vibrant Living." See the website! The website description is a much more concise description of an Immersed event than what you'll find here. Skip to the middle of this post if you want to know how our Immersed event this Sunday affects parents and children. Skip to the end here if you want a St. Francis bibliography for children! I'll try to put together one for the other saints later this week.

If you're wondering what an Immersed event is at Artisan it's an opportunity to worship the Living God a little differently. Alot of Sunday worship is a corporate expression in the sense that everyone is doing the same thing at the same time. You start singing together, you stop singing together. You pray together. You take communion together. You listen to the message together. You bring your offerings together. You leave together. It's individual in that we're all individuals in terms of how it affects us or how we respond to God but we're all doing the same thing together at the same time.

For us, an Immersed event has been a night set aside during a holiday season. For one of their Immersed events before our merge, Capax Dei created a Labyrinth. Usually, there's comforting quieting background music, subdued lighting, and a series of stations that the participants move through individually at their own pace. People can come and go, start and stop whenever they want to. There's usually something to read, a way to respond, the creators of the stations try to draw on as many senses as they can to enrich the experience. It's a very personal time, yet a shared experience. This week it will be part of our Sunday worship. In times past it's happened on a separate evening so you could come and go, commune with God for whatever length of time you want to and not have to talk with anyone if you don't want to.

If the night is set apart for an Immersed event, parents can come alone or bring their children. This Sunday, because it's part of our regular worship, we'll offer a place and people to care for restless toddlers while their parents are going through the stations, but children 3 and older can easily participate with their parents or guardians, respond to the visuals, respond to questions, pray and experience the sensory experiences that are available to deepen their knowledge and worship of God.

I have St. Francis. Here's a list of some beautifully illustrated library books for children, if you're interested.

Hodges, Margaret. Brother Francis and the Friendly Beasts. Charles Scribner's Sons: NY, 1991. Beautiful soft realistic watercolors by Ted Lewin. (at least my daughter tells me they're watercolors.)

Mayo,Margaret. Bother Sun, Sister Moon: The Life and Stories of St. Francis. Little , Brown and Company: New York, 2000. The book of short stories doesn't have as many pictures but they're nicely done: medieval style, gentle and childlike.

Visconti, Guido. Clare and Francis. Eerdmans Books for Young Readers; Grand Rapids, MI 2003. Beautiful gold gilt illustrations; medieval iconic feel by Bimba Landmann.

Wildsmith, Brian. Saint Francis. Wm. B Eerdman's Publishing Company: Grand Rapids, MI 1996. Vibrant colors, metallic feel, lots of detail, more oriental feel.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Just for fun

Here's a comic strip link...I think it came up when I was looking for images of sheep and I happened to like the one that came up that day but I have no idea which one it was...Have fun with it.

Craft book

As far as crafts go, I'm big on giving kids alot of room to create. Sometimes limits and problems to solve actually draw more creativity out of kids than complete unguided freedom. Besides time, space, and materials for growing creativity and fine art skills, I'm also big on letting them do things and make things that tie into all the subject areas, not just Bible. (I once found a great science/craft book for making insects but haven't seen it lately to give you the name. I think it was at Brighton Library in the Children's craft section) I'm not big on coloring sheets, throw away crafts.

That being said, Crafts From Your Favorite Bible Stories by Kathy Ross [the Millbrook Press, 2000] is a craft book with activities that are especially clever. I borrowed it yesterday at Rundel and brought it home. Very clever stuff!

Kathy Ross has written some great seasonal craft books, too! The way I understand it, she was (or may still be) a preschool teacher so many of her books work well with 3-5's.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

An unexpected discussion about Halloween

I told my 22 yr old son that he'd be among friends at Artisan because most of you tend to send your blog comments between 10 pm and 1 am (he laughed!) It's ok with me, it means I have email at 6 am! So I'm posting this late!

My husband, my 16 year old daughter, and I are in the car. My daughter says she's invited to her friend's Halloween party, reminding me that I haven't given her an answer yet. Then one of us uses the words "holiday" and "Halloween" in the same sentence. I probably said something like "Halloween is [name of beloved person]'s favorite holiday."

George says, "Halloween isn't a holiday."

Jenny and I look at each other.

I say, "It's on the calendar. It's a holiday. It's not a bank holiday but it's a holiday."

Jenny says, "Dad, it's a holiday."

"It's not a holiday," he says. "Halloween isn't a holiday. . ."

How is it that in 26 years and 5 kids we've talked about Halloween, but we've never had this particular discussion?

George and I rarely, if ever, fight. We differ on almost everything, but I don't think we've ever really had a knock-down-drag-out-fight. Some people will tell you that fighting and making up is healthy but we're so different that our energy is better spent talking about the things we agree on. And we've managed to stay both happy and married.

So, I offer to look it up Halloween on the Internet to see if it's really a holiday. [The Internet - the final word! LOL!] Search "Halloween Holiday?" (without the question mark, then with the question mark). I ask you. Is there any doubt in your mind that most people consider Halloween a holiday? But here's the clincher.

Wikepedia says, "The word holiday has. . . different meanings in English-speaking countries. [Aha!] Based on the English words "holy" and "day", holidays originally represented special days of the Christian Church calendar. The word has evolved in general usage to mean any special day."

[Precisely what I was thinking! I couldn't have said it better. But there's more...]

"In Canada and the United States, a holiday is a day set aside by a nation or culture (in some cases, multiple nations and cultures) typically for "celebration" but sometimes for some other kind of special culture-wide (or national) observation or activity. A holiday can also be a special day on which schools and/or offices are closed, such as Labor Day."

[Ok, it's a national/multinational/cultural celebration. Schools celebrate but they're not closed. It's not a bank holiday. . .]

"In most of the rest of the English-speaking world . . . a holiday is also a period spent away from home or business in travel or recreation . . . the North American equivalent being 'vacation'. "

[Who do I know who takes a Halloween vacation or a Halloween break? No one. Ok, point taken... I say it's a holiday. You say it isn't. Fine!]

Whether or not you celebrate it, I still say that if it's on the calendar, it's somebody's holiday! If you're trying to decide whether or not you should celebrate, I can't tell you that. You just have to decide. If you don't have to decide, that's even better!

If you feel like you're stuck, talk to God about it. You may find Romans 14 and Colossians 2 helpful. The history of holidays is interesting, too. If you want some rich conversation, ask people why they celebrate this day and not that one or why they celebrate something the way they do. :)

And if you want to get really confused, hang out at our house!

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

just alittle far out

One side of this blog is just personal opinion like this one which in no way reflects on Artisan or its leadership. That's my disclaimer...I've actually considered blogging this for weeks but I have to say it isn't the first thing I wanted new readers to find...

Thinking about Young Children in Worship, there are elements that I really like about it and elements that we've tried to incorporate as we've included kids in worship. I believe it was originally based on more liturgical services to give children a taste of "grown up" worship and grow in them the memories and understandings that they need in order for the liturgical service to be meaningful to them. (Non-liturgical churches also use Young Children in Worship and love it.)

Someday I would love to see a very simple adult service designed like YCIW with offering at the beginning- what we bring to God, worship music, story (God's Word as primary and only speaker without anyone talking about it), wonder questions, opportunity to interact with the story/time for personal meditation and creative response, communion meal and that's it!

It runs a bit contrary to the fact that over the years we've consistantly chosen to be part of contemporary protestant worship communities (though we investigated other options). Thinking about this has given me a new appreciation for catholic and orthodox practice. I also realize that using that form of worship consistantly could put Protestant ministers out of work but pastors don't just become pastors so they can teach/talk on Sundays, do they?

... I haven't stretched your thinking too much lately. :-)

I'm going to play with posting about that beloved controversial holiday Halloween...

Check this out!

Jadedcm said I can send you his way. He's blogging at

Take a look at "Child-like Church" posted Oct 12. 2005 and check out their techno Sunday school "Connection Zone !!!!!" posted Sept. 27, 2005.

And there's more!

Monday, October 24, 2005


[This site is now listed in our Artisan Church worship folder, thus the need for this special welcome. The Artisan Philosophy was posted 8/21. You should read that. Also realize (that if you return) you never know what you're going to find here!]

We've been using this site as a place to brainstorm our wrestlings about how to include our children in community worship in a way that will enable children and adults to interact with God (and one another) in meaningful ways.

We believe that children are capable of worship, able to interact with God, and able to interact with Him through His words and stories.

We believe that children are a blessing and that they belong with us when we gather to worship as a community and hear the Word. We believe it's a Biblical model and that the scriptures are clear that God takes great delight in having children around Him.

We believe that worship is more formative than instruction, although there is a time and place for that.

We want to include our children in as much of community life as appropriate and not separate them. Our hope is that this will nurture a sense of belonging for our children and that their presence will help form Artisan church as we grow and change to meet the needs of upcoming generations.

Our hope is to support, encourage, and equip parents to lead and guide their children in faith as they walk with Christ through relationships and in whatever ways we can.

We believe that God has much to teach all of us through our children.


Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Learning from Children: Tenderness

There's an interesting word in the scriptures. I'm not a Greek or Hebrew student but the word in the NIV is "tender". It's a word in the scriptures that describes children. 5 out of 8 of the words for "tender" in Bible Gateway's Hebrew Lexicon have to do with tender grass or sprouting plants. Three have to do with deep love/compassion/mercy and there are other sides to some of those words.

Here's a sample. Read them in context if you like:
Deut 32:2 "tender plants (new grass)
Genesis 33:13 "My lord knows that the children are tender . . ."
Proverbs 4:3 "When I was a boy in my father's house, still tender..."
Ezekial 17:22, the very top of a cedar tree is tender enough to break off
and it will sprout planted in the ground .
Isaiah 53 "He grew up before him like a tender shoot . . ."

Is. 47:1 The Daughter of Babylon, on the other hand, wasn't tender anymore.
Isaiah 37: 26-28 talks about tender sprouts scorched before they grow up. (If I'm reading correctly the Assyrians were raging against God.)

Prov 15:1 The soft answer that turns away wrath is a "tender" answer.

Zechariah 7:9
"Thus has the LORD of hosts said, 'Dispense true justice and practice kindness and compassion (tenderness) each to his brother;" Hosea, Isaiah, and David in the Psalms speak of the tenderness of God.

As adults, God gives us a heart of flesh instead of a heart of stone and we chose to stay soft or allow our hearts to grow cold and hard. Children are tender though they have to be trained. Sometimes we wonder how trainable they are, yet children can still be trained because they are "tender". I'd venture to say that maybe tenderness requires a certain childlikeness and visa versa.

A child being a tender shoot is one side of what I'm reading. It leaves me thinking about the tender love of developly challenged "children" or the capacity of little children to comfort and forgive. (Understanding that there are many facets of God) I'd not considered the moments when children are especially tender and compassionate as a glimpse of God's tender mercy.

There's lots of imagery here. If you think about children and young plants as you read back through these passages, you may find more to ponder here.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Movement/Social Aspects of Worship

What movement and social interaction is appropriate to worshipping the living God? What can you still call "worship"?

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Ideal family worship...

No holds barred, any building space, what would be your ideal situation for family/community worship? What would it look like? What would a family friendly service look like? What elements are important to you? Becca sent me her thoughts on this. I can forward it so you can all add your comments or wait and put all the comments together and see what the picture looks like.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Interesting book discovery

I've not read this but discovered it on one of my searches for something. The title looks interesting, doesn't it?

The book: Teaching the Mystery of God to Children: A Book of Clues by Judy Gattis Smith. She's also written other books, among them Teaching to Wonder. It's at Not sure if they're tied to a denomination or just lectionary materials. (I really did try to put a link here but still haven't figured it out).

Thursday, October 13, 2005

wisdom (postscript)

My point in sharing a couple of Ms. Paterson's thoughts about wisdom is this: how often do we contemplate what it means to teach or impart wisdom to children? What part does it play in child-training, Christian education, or Christian formation? Or do we take it for granted that we're teaching a child wisdom when we train and educate? Are we?

How does someone learn wisdom? Is it one of your goals? Is it something you consciously pursue?

I propose that the scriptures may have more to say about pursuing wisdom than about teaching/training/instruction. Flipping through my Young's Analytical Concordance, at first glance, I see about 2 columns (together) devoted to "teach,""train,"or "instruct." When I look at "wisdom" I see 4. Add Proverbs and Ecclesiastes.

. . . in case you've run out of things to think about :-)

Wednesday, October 12, 2005


I'm 5 chapters into Katherine Paterson's The Invisible Child . Here are a couple of interesting comments about wisdom. She also had a wonderful story about speaking to a crowd of people in SE Asia, listening, and oral tradition.

Wisdom comes from reflection (which takes time and thought)

Paterson quotes Sven Birkerts (author of The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age 1995) His core fear "is that we are, as a culture, as a species, becoming shallower...we have turned from depth -from the Judeo-Christian premise of unfathomable mystery - and are adapting ourselves to the ersatz security of a vast lateral connectedness. That we are giving up on wisdom..."

Paterson and Birkerts say, "the quiet depth survives ... in art and literature, but experiencing the depth ... is hard work - we must give to the task time and energy and reflection."

A couple more questions

[Thinking about yourself and other parents you know] Compared to your parents and grandparents, what do you think are the most significant changes in your thinking about parenting?

Do you think there are big differences between parents who are 20-30 and those who are 30-40? Between parents with varying degrees of education? or from varying socio-economic backgrounds?

Understanding that individual parents probably have different needs, what do you think parents need most from the church?

How can the church help equip parents to best serve/lead their children?

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

What's your take on "obediance"?

I received an email ad for a Christian parenting video. In the outline of key points was this: "Obedience - the cornerstone of good parenting."

I know what my generation of parents in the church thought about this. I'm curious to know how a new and upcoming generation of parents feels about this (and how grown children feel about this.)

How do you feel about a mother's role and a father's role? Do they have distinct and different roles?

Just curious. . . I think asking questions keeps us from making assumptions that may or may not be true.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Food for Thought

I have a pile of books that have been staring at me since mid summer. They're books by children's writers, not for children, but for "grown-up" childrens writers (a lovely oxymoron).

I've started The Invisible Child by Katherine Paterson. She's an award-winning children's writer and a woman who's faith profoundly influences her work. This book is a collection of her speeches. The first 24 pages are about wonder.

A quote she shared from Rachel Carson's book A Sense of Wonder: "It is our misfortune that for most of us that clear-eyed vision, that true instinct for what is beautiful and awe-inspiring, is dimmed and even lost before we reach adulthood." Paterson says, "It is the kind of wonder that is drawn to the everyday, the ordinary, and sees in the broken seashell the link to the mystery out of which we are born."

She wonders if our facination with Harry Potter is because it feeds a generation starving for a sense of wonder. We may look to science, either the God-created or man-created world, to satisfy the wonder of curiosity or our facination with gadgets and mystery but we turn to story to explore the wonders of the meaning of life.

"Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders You have done . . . I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings of old which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us. We will not conceal them from their children, but tell to the generation to come the praises of the Lord, and His strength and His wondrous works that He has done." Ps 40:5 KJV Ps. 78:2-4 NAS

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Be Still and Know

In our loud, fast paced, entertainment oriented, over-stimulated society, where do you find stillness and quiet? How do you share that with a child? How do you teach children to listen, not just to listen and obey but to listen and hear the things that you only hear in still quiet places ...

Learning from Childen : Paying attention

Focusing on God and prayer and worship is pretty challenging when you're little, full of energy, all your friends are around to play with, it 's boring, etc etc. It's hard work to focus and concentrate.

But I wonder. . . how often do I look like that to my heavenly Father? How often does He feel a parent's frustration with me, especially when I'm in a group?

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Field Trips

This doesn't have to be a pastor-initiated suggestion or even a children's ministry initiated item.

If your pastor is doing a series on the vineyard parables, visit a vineyard! If he's talking about sheep, visit a sheep farm! Visit an art museum and see Egyptian art or take books out of the library...

Consider whether there's an appropriate field trip you can take with friends or family that ties into whatever Biblical story you're interacting with. Not only will it be a multi-sensory, hands-on experience but I'm guessing it will add a layer to your understanding of the passage and that God can show you things that you might never experience if you don't go.

Imagining isn't the same as inhaling the aroma of a sheep farm, running your fingers through their lanolin laced wool, being butted by a sheep, watching the vines wrap their little tendrils around a fence or sipping freshly pressed grape juice or tasting new wine and old.